2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks, Including the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #isitThursdayyet

With the King’s passing last September, it’s unfortunate in a sense to not see a stronger contingent teeing it up this week at his prize creation, Bay Hill,  for this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.  That being said, I can’t blame players whatsoever for skipping this week as the PGA Tour cram-jammed the WGC-Mexico right smack dab into the middle of the Florida swing, then also decided to stuff the WGC Match Play between this week and next, making it essentially impossible to expect top players to make appearances on a weekly basis between now and the Masters.  Come on Monahan and Co, please get this right for next year.

The Bay Hill course is a juicy 7,400+ yard par 72 track, with water hazards and deep bunkering galore.  The bombers definitely have an advantage this week, but with several of the par 4s require laying well back off the tee (similar to the Valspar last week), it does take drivers out of the hands for several holes of the bomb and gouge crew.  Oh yeah, and the 12.5-ish stimped greens are no cake walk either.

My picks last week at the Valspar Championship were not so stellar, as only my Lockzilla Henrik Stenson produced (t-7th), while Webb Simpson (t-41st) and Steve Stricker (MC) disappointed.  I also missed the mark on my bust pick of the week as Wesley Bryan played some solid golf en route to a t-7th finish.

Now, let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLA (Last week: Henrik t-7th)

Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson
– Yep, I’m avoiding most of the chalk this week and going with some Iowegian love and Zach Johnson.  14th career appearance here and loves himself some pure, fast greens, and that’s exactly what’s on tap this week.  T-9th and solo 5th in his past two appearances here, and throwing out the loony WGC-Mexico and he arrives in good form, with a t-12th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and a t-27th at the Honda Classic in his two prior starts.  A virtual lock for a top 25 this week with winning upside.

SEMI-FLIER (Last week: Webb t-41st)

Jason Kokrak
Jason Kokrak
– I pegged him in this spot two years ago and he came through with a very solid t-6th place finish.  His last 3 Bay Hill appearances now go 4th, t-6th, t-20th.  That’s mighty juicy for the long-bombing Canadian.  Not sure if this is the week that he finally breaks through into the winner’s circle, but I definitely expect for him to contend.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: Bryan t-7th)

Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson
– It’s almost too easy at this point to slot him here, but until Bubba shows us something positive with his cute new hyper-colored golf balls I’m on the major fade train with the lefty.  In addition to the golf ball, his new slimmer physique don’t seem to be helping either as watching him last week he clearly has lost some distance off the tee (don’t get me wrong, he’s still long, but not as long as before).  Oh yeah, and the last time that he played here he shot a first round 83 (which included an 11 on the par 5 6th hole), was DFL and quit after round 1.  Stay away until further notice.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last week: Stricker MC)

Marc Leishman
Marc Leishman
– The tall Aussie is 5/7 in cuts made here, including a t-3rd in ’11 and t-17th last year.  Add in that he has 6 finishes of t-27th or better this season on the PGA Tour and is well rested coming off his last start at the Honda Classic and yeah, I’m all in on the 62nd ranked player in the OWGR this week.

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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